At a recent conference I went to, I entered a drawing to win a prize from one of the sponsors. Other prizes being given out by other vendors (and the conference host) were things like UMPCs, Xbox 360 consoles, Xbox 360 games, and so forth. Pretty cool stuff.
A month later I got this email from the sponsor that told me I had won something and said, quote (emphasis theirs), “If you’d like to claim your fabulous prize, please respond to this email with your mailing address.”
I was stoked. Stoked! I don’t really ever win anything, so to win something on this level - especially if they have to confirm my mailing address after the form of entry was to drop my business card, complete with my mailing address, into a basket for the drawing - was pretty exciting.
I psyched myself up, wondering what it could be. A UMPC would be cool, but - no, don’t get your hopes up that high. Maybe an Xbox 360 game. I sure hope I don’t have it already. I suppose I could trade it in if I do. Maybe a gift card somewhere neat. Even if it’s something like Amazon, hey, bonus. What could it be?
The prize arrived today. I saw it in my mailbox at work and walked over to it, wondering. It was in a manila envelope, so it wasn’t anything as big or bulky as a UMPC… but it could still be an Xbox game or a gift card. I walked over and picked it up, slightly unnerved by the… soft… feel to the envelope. But it could be packaging! It could just be the packaging!
I took the envelope back to my desk and tore into it, no longer able to contain the anticipation, firmly ready to blog about how freaking awesome I am with this bitchin’ prize. I pulled it out and…
What the hell kind of happy horseshit is all this?
My “fabulous prize” is a t-shirt of dubious manufacture. No brand I’ve ever heard of. Far too thin to wear without - you guessed it - another t-shirt underneath. (Hey, not even my wife wants to see my man-boobs showing through, and I certainly don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to see that, either.) Oh, and it’s got this ad on the front for careers at the company that, frankly, I don’t get. There’s this weird shape that is a cross between an upside-down speech bubble and the head of a golf club that I think is supposed to be a hand giving a “thumb’s up” sign, but I can’t be sure. This weird image thing is intermingled with the phrase “[Vendor Name] Makes Work FUN.” Ummmm, okay.
I feel a little like Ralphie in A Christmas Story when he decoded Little Orphan Annie’s secret message: “Drink Your Ovaltine.” Ovaltine?!
Message to vendors at all future conferences I go to: Rather than give out crappy prizes, just… don’t. Don’t give this junk away. You’re ruining the environment by consuming resources, and I don’t need any more rags to wax my car with. Instead, give away one good prize that you won’t award to me because I’m a loser and save me the effort of another blog entry.